China and Thailand Eliminate Visa Requirements on a Permanent Basis

Web DeskJanuary 2, 20243175 min
China and Thailand Eliminate Visa Requirements on a Permanent Basis

In a momentous bilateral development, Thailand and China have jointly declared the permanent waiver of visa requirements for each other’s citizens, set to take effect from March. Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin confirmed this groundbreaking decision, heralding a new era of streamlined travel for the nationals of both nations.

The initiative to remove visa requirements for Chinese citizens was initially introduced by Thailand in September, with the aim of revitalizing tourist inflow. This proactive step yielded positive outcomes, as evidenced by the arrival of over 22,000 Chinese visitors in Thailand within the first 48 hours of the visa relaxation.

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During a press conference held on Tuesday, Prime Minister Srettha conveyed his optimism about the reciprocal benefits that this decision would bring to both countries, anticipating an improvement in bilateral relations. “This signifies progress in Thailand-China relations and underscores the significance of Thai passports,” remarked Mr. Srettha, emphasizing the symbolic importance of this shift in visa policy.

Chinese tourists currently constitute the second-largest group of foreign visitors to Thailand, trailing only behind Malaysia. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has projected an expected surge of up to 3.5 million Chinese visitors for the entirety of 2023.

In comparison to pre-pandemic figures from 2019, when Thailand welcomed nearly 11 million Chinese tourists, the anticipated numbers for 2023 reflect substantial progress. However, the tourism sector has faced challenges related to safety concerns, fueled by rumors of tourists being abducted and taken to illicit centers in neighboring countries such as Myanmar or Cambodia. Notably, a popular Chinese movie, ‘No More Bets,’ has further impacted Thailand’s tourism industry.

The film depicts the narrative of human trafficking set in Thailand, although it is not entirely rooted in reality. Nevertheless, it has triggered irrational fears regarding the risks associated with trafficking. ‘No More Bets’ revolves around trafficking workers for online scam factories and has gained significant traction in China while portraying Thailand as a dangerous and risky destination for tourists.

In the wake of these challenges, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has set an ambitious target of attracting 8.2 million Chinese tourists in 2024, with the objective of revitalizing Thailand’s tourism sector.

Concurrently, China is grappling with efforts to attract tourists from around the world and has recently initiated a visa-free trial for visitors from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia. The reciprocal visa waiver between Thailand and China stands as a significant milestone in fostering stronger ties and facilitating increased travel opportunities for their citizens.

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